Ripon Cathedral
Ripon Cathedral is the seat of the Bishop of Ripon and Leeds and the mother church of the Diocese of Ripon and Leeds, situated in the small North Yorkshire city of Ripon, England.

A church on the site is thought to date from 672, when it is believed to have been the second stone building erected in the Anglo-Saxon Kingdom of Northumbria. The crypt dates from this period. People have been coming to worship and pray at Ripon for more than 1,350 years. The Cathedral building itself is part of this continuing act of worship, begun in the 7th century when Saint Wilfrid built one of England’s first stone churches on this site, and still renewed every day. Within the nave and choir, you can see the evidence of 800 years in which master craftsmen have expressed their faith in wood and stone.

Today’s church is the fourth to have stood on this site. Saint Wilfrid brought stonemasons, plasterers and glaziers from France and Italy to build his great basilica in AD 672. A contemporary account by Eddius Stephanus tells us: "In Ripon, Saint Wilfrid built and completed from the foundations to the roof a church of dressed stone, supported by various columns and side-aisles to a great height and many windows, arched vaults and a winding cloister." Saint Wilfrid was buried in this church near the high altar. Devastated by the English king in AD 948 as a warning to the Archbishop of York, only the crypt of Wilfrid’s church survived but today this tiny 7th century chapel rests complete beneath the later grandeur of Archbishop Roger de Pont l’Evêque’s 12th century minster. A second minster soon arose at Ripon, but it too perished ”“ this time in 1069 at the hands of William the Conqueror. Thomas of Bayeux, first Norman Archbishop of York, then instigated the construction of a third church, traces of which were incorporated into the later chapter house of Roger’s minster. The Early English west front was added in 1220, its twin towers originally crowned with wooden spires and lead. Major rebuilding had to be postponed due to the outbreak of the Wars of the Roses but resumed after the accession of Henry VII and the restoration of peace in 1485. The nave was widened and the central tower partially rebuilt. The church's thirty five misericords were carved between 1489 and 1494. It is worth noting that the same (Ripon) school of carvers also carved the misericords at Beverley Minster and Manchester Cathedral. But in 1547, before this work was finished, Edward VI dissolved Ripon’s college of canons. All revenues were appropriated by the Crown and the tower never received its last Perpendicular arches. It was not until 1604 that James I issued his Charter of Restoration.

Cathedral status
The minster finally became a cathedral (the church where the Bishop has his cathedra or throne) in 1836, the focal point of the newly created Anglican Diocese of Ripon " the first to be established since the Reformation.

Under the recommendations of the Dioceses Commission's Yorkshire Review, the Diocese and See of Ripon and Leeds would be entirely dissolved to facilitate the creation of a new Diocese of Wakefield, and Ripon Cathedral would become a minor seat of the new diocesan Bishop of Wakefield (although the area Bishop of Ripon would have a "seat of honour" there). The Canons from the College of Ripon Cathedral would merge into a new diocesan College, and the Dean of Ripon would become a Vice-Dean of that College (under the Dean of Wakefield).

The musical tradition in the cathedral is very strong. The current director and assistant director of music are Andrew Bryden and Edmund Aldhouse respectively.

The cathedral has a fine organ by Harrison and Harrison dating from 1926. The organ is on the screen and has casework by Gilbert Scott. A specification of the organ can be found on the National Pipe Organ Register.

List of organists

Assistant organists
  • Edward Brown
  • Henry Taylor 1876 - 1881
  • William Rains
  • William Edward Cave
  • Edgar Alfred Lane
  • Charles Morton Bailey 1887 - 1890
  • David Lamb
The post of assistant organist was informal until 1928 when it made official.

See also the List of Organ Scholars at Ripon Cathedral.

A ring of 12 bells with an additional 'flat sixth' bell is hung in the south west tower. A diatonic ring of ten bells was cast in 1932, and three additional bells were installed in 2008 with two new trebles being added to give a diatonic ring of twelve, and an additional 'flat sixth' bell to give a light ring of eight.

Picture gallery

  • 1447 Thomas Litster (priest)
  • 1478 Lawrence Lancaster
  • 1511 John Watson
  • 1513 William Swaine
  • 1520 Adam Bakehouse
  • 1540 William Solber
  • 1548 Interregnum
  • 1613 John Wanlass
  • ca. 1643 Interregnum
  • 1662 Henry Wanlass
  • 1670 Wilson
  • 1674 Alexander Shaw
  • 1677 William Sorrell
  • 1682 John Hawkins
  • 1690 Thomas Preston (sen)
  • 1731 Thomas Preston (jun)
  • 1748 William Ayrton
  • 1799 William F. M. Ayrton
  • 1802 Nicholas T. D. Ayrton
  • 1823 John Henry Bond
  • 1829 George Bates
  • 1874 Edwin John Crow
  • 1902 Charles Henry Moody, CBE (formerly organist of Holy Trinity Church, Coventry)
  • 1954 Lionel Frederick Dakers
  • 1957 Philip Marshall
  • 1966 Ronald Edward Perrin
  • 1994 Kerry Beaumont
  • 2002 Andrew Bryden (Acting)
  • 2003 Simon Morley
  • 2003 Andrew Bryden
  • Dennis Cocks 1928 - 1935
  • Alfred H. Allsop 1935 - 1939
  • Interregnum 1939 - 1947
  • Alex Forrest 1947 - 1952
  • Paul Mace 1952 - 1955
  • Keith Bond 1955 - 1956
  • Peter Anthony Stanley Stevenson 1956 - 1958
  • Laurence Gibbon 1958 - 1963
  • Alan Dance 1963 - 1974
  • Marcus Huxley 1974 - 1986 (later organist of St. Philip's Cathedral, Birmingham)
  • Robert Marsh 1986 - 1998
  • Andrew Bryden 1998 - 2003 (then organist)
  • Thomas Leech 2004 - 2008
  • Edmund Aldhouse 2009 -


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